The ability to work independently and collaborate, listen and focus, copy and invent, lead and follow, move and be still, compete and collaborate, investigate and translate, make and edit, rehearse and rehearse some more . . . these are the lessons of dance.
I am currently an artist-in-residence with Jacob Pillow’s Curriculum in Motion. I collaborate with teachers to meet curricular goals using dance. But this is not the dance you might expect. I don’t teach a particular style of dance. Instead, we dive into improvisation and composition, sharing technique that realizes those ideas, co-creating the experience with students and teachers every step of the way. Picture biology students dancing cell division; foreign language students making movement to represent sentence structure. Interaction and movement fuels our learning process.
National and state arts education standards are met during two-week residencies. Since 1994, Berkshire County’s Monument Mountain Regional High School (MMRHS) has served as the Pillow’s laboratory site for developing and refining Jacob’s Pillow Curriculum in Motion®. The program has been presented at arts education conferences, featured on National Public Radio’s Best of Our Knowledge, and highlighted in the 2003 Kennedy Center and Dana Foundation publication, Acts of Achievement.
How we respond to new situations, how we welcome a stranger, how we use our power, we learn that because of this kind of dancing. Drawing upon K-12 academic topics as source material, choreographic works are developed by students through a co-teaching process between classroom teachers and the Pillow’s roster of prominent artist-educators.